MP’s security costs have increased by 29 percent last year and are set to rise further following the fatal stabbing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess, the UK’s parliamentary watchdog said on Friday.
Publishing its annual figures on MP’s business costs, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) said the total security assistance cost for the year 2020–21 was around £4.37 million ($5.92 million), almost £1 million ($1.36 million) more than the previous financial year.
IPSA Chair Richard Lloyd said the cost could increase further this year following Amess’s murder because it’s “absolutely vital for our democracy” to ensure the safety of MPs, their families, and their staff.
The murder of Amess by Islamist extremist Ali Harbi Ali last October marked the second fatal attack on a sitting British lawmaker in their constituency in the last five years. In 2016, Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in her small-town constituency in a fatal shooting a week ahead of the Brexit referendum by Neo-Nazi Thomas Mair.
The security costs for MPs jumped by 14 times in 2016 and nearly doubled again in the following year.
The security cost was the fourth biggest cost during the year 2020–21, representing 3.17 percent of MPs’ total costs during the financial year.
The biggest costs, staffing (76.7 percent) and office (11 percent) costs, both rose by 17 percent on the previous year, to £105.8 million ($143.42 million) and £15.2 million ($20.6 million) respectively, according to the regulator.
IPSA chair Richard Lloyd said spending on staffing was higher as the budget was boosted in light of constituency casework increasing to record levels.
Meanwhile, accommodation costs rose by 4 percent, to £9.3 million ($12.6 million), while travel and subsistence costs—which include funding to cover staff and dependants—dropped by more than 60 percent, from £5.6 million ($7.59 million) in 2019–20 to £2.1 million ($2.85 million) in 2020–21.
Lloyd said this reflected “different working patterns” during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
Overall, MPs’ business costs amounted to nearly £138 million ($187 million) in 2020–21, including £176,000 ($238,580) in disability assistance costs and £1 million ($1.36 million) in staff absences and other costs, IPSA said.
Lloyd added that compliance with the IPSA rules remained “very high,” at 99.7 percent.
“As the independent regulator that oversees spending by MPs, we can confirm today that compliance with our rules remained very high during the COVID pandemic,” he said.
“By far the largest area of spending is to pay for the salaries of MPs’ staff. These are people who work long hours to help constituents, often dealing with very difficult issues,” Lloyd added.
PA contributed to this report.